Autoclaves in the Crick's glasswash facility used to sterilise glassware for researchers.

How clean is clean enough?

Every year, the Glasswash team will clean 750,000 flasks, bottles and test tubes to be reused by Crick scientists. Their work is vital; one mistake and contamination could put life-changing scientific research at risk.

Intro

How do you clean?

To banish every last germ, the team doesn’t just wash the glassware, they bake it in an oven or pressure-cook it in an autoclave.

This attention to detail and scrupulous cleanliness is essential to the daily running of Britain’s biggest lab.

When handling glassware, it's all about the gloves. Disposable gloves protect the team's hands from contamination and keep clean glass pristine.

MEET

Meet Nicholas

Nick Sherwood is a Glasswash Technician, one of a team of twelve. Like all of his colleagues, Nick trained on the job and must maintain the team's high standards every minute of every day. Each technician is responsible for their own set of labs, arriving early to clear the dirty glassware and then clearing the decks again early afternoon. Each day they will run 20 loads through industrial dishwashers.

Nick Sherwood

Mini CV

  • 1995 - 1999

    GCSEs including Science, Maths and Design Technology

  • 1999 - 2001

    Apprentice Cabinet Maker, Harrison Varma, London, UK

  • 2002 - 2005

    Logistics Assistant, Lasgo Chrysalis, London, UK

  • 2006 - 2012

    Glasswash Technician, National Institute of Medical Research, London, UK

  • 2013 - Present

    Glasswash Technician, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK

  • Quote Nicholas

    Our roles are so different from the scientists. But when you see the work they're doing, you feel part of a whole.

    Nicholas Sherwood

    Glasswash Technician

    MEET

    Meet Tasnim

    Tasnim joined the Crick as a BTEC Level 3 Apprentice. This is a two-year course where participants learn on the job within different scientific and technical teams. During her time with Glasswash, Tasnim particularly learnt the importance of high levels of attention to detail.

    Tasnim Ali

    Mini CV

  • 2013 - 2014

    STEM Crest Award (a scheme that inspires young people to think and behave like scientists and engineers)

  • 2015 - 2016

    Completed GCSEs including Double Science and Maths

  • 2016 - Present

    Applied Science BTEC Level 3, Westminster Kingsway College/City Islington College, London, UK

  • 2017 - Present

    Laboratory Technician Apprentice, Francis Crick Institute, London, UK 

  • Quote Tasnim

    Glasswash is such a lovely friendly team. When I was working in the labs upstairs I didn’t stop to think about where all the clean glassware came from, but now I realise Glasswash are the most important people in the building.

    Tasnim Ali

    Apprentice Technician

    Have you got what it takes?

    Have you got what it takes?

    Here are the top three skills needed to work in Glasswash:

    • Attention to detail
    • Precision
    • Critical thinking

      For more information on the different skills required for technical roles in science and beyond, have a look at the Technicians Make it Happen prospectus:

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